Most homesteaders get their water from private, drilled wells. Most private wells use electric pumps. Ordinary buckets wont fit in a (commonly) 6″ well casing. Therefore, without electricity, most homesteaders wont have water.
The well bucket on the left took weeks to arrive and with shipping, cost more than $50. The one on the right was put together in under an hour, for $9.80.
We thought the solution to this would be a “well bucket” that fits drilled wells as small as 5″. Apparently, many others had the same thought. The item was backordered and it took almost a month to get delivery.
By then I had put together a homemade one, from parts available at the local hardware store.
Then we discovered that neither one would work in our well. Although both easily fit into the casing, they did not fit past the plumbing.
At the Midwest Renewable Energy Fair last summer, an anonymous visitor dropped a sheet of plans for an interesting-looking simple hand pump on the table at the Countryside booth. We built one.
It consisted of an off-the-shelf foot valve and some PVC pipe and fittings. The only tool needed was a saw, to cut one section of pipe to length. (The water level in the well was at 20 feet. We made the total length of the pipe, including foot valve and fittings, about three feet longer, so the foot valve would be under water and there would still be a foot or so of pipe above the top of the well casing.)
We uncapped the well and inserted the pipe and foot valve. It went past the electric pump with room to spare.
To pump water, we grasped the top of the pipe, and plunged it up and down.
On the downstroke, water entered the pipe via the foot valve. On the upstroke, the foot valve held the water in the pipe. On the next downstroke, the water level inside the pipe rose. Eventually, it rose high enough to spill out the top, where it ran into a hose and down into our waiting container.
Once the flow started, it took about a minute-and-a-half to pump a gallon. (It pumps on the downstroke only.) It was work, but it was the solution we were looking for.
By attaching a hook near the top, this pump can be stored in the well without interfering with the electric pump and regular plumbing. If the power goes out, all we have to do is remove the well cap and start pumping.
If the power is off for a long period, or if larger quantities of water are needed for livestock or other uses, it would be helpful to have this pump rigged to some kind of wind or pedal power. But even hand-operated, its an amazingly simple solution to a perplexing problem.
Ed. note: We have learned that this pump was designed by Keith Hendricks, who lives in “northwestern Ohio.” He has distributed thousands of copies of the plans at survival expos (and the Midwest Renewable Energy Fair). This is exactly the kind of ingenuity and community spirit weve been saying will be an essential part of homesteading in the future!
How to make a well bucket
1 ea. 3″ PVC pipe 36″ long $1.93
1 ea. PVC couple 1-1/2″ x 3″ (reducer) 2.79
1 seat, disk screw type (toilet tank) 2.89
1-1/2″ x 1/8″ x 48″ flat bar stock 2.19
1 ea. 24″ heavy wire (for handle)
1 ea. 6″ piece valley tin (for seat disk bar guide) .00
Drill a 1/8″ hole in the bar stock, 1/2″ from one end, and put a 90° bend 1″ from that end.
Make 90° bends 3″ and 1″ from the other end to form a handle.
Screw seat disk to handle.
In PVC pipe, drill 1/4″ hole 1″ from end, all the way through, for the wire handle. Bend the valley tin to fit inside the PVC and drill holes to match those in the PVC. Make a slot about 1/4″ x 3/4″ in middle of valley tin to slide over handle to hold it in place.
Assemble all the pieces and glue the reducer to the bottom of the PVC. Be sure the disk seat moves up and down.
Use your imagination and whatever you have laying around and Im sure you can improve on this.
How to make a hand pump
The hand pump [in Figure 1] is as simple as a paper clip and just as ingenius. Just buy the parts, put them together, and start pumping! It took us about 20 minutes to put one together and it cost less than $20.
The exploded view at left shows the (from top) hose adaptor; pipe adaptor; pipe (the short section here is for demonstration: it must be long enough to reach the water level in your well); another adaptor; and the foot valve.
Not shown is the guide sleeve (which increases efficiency, and keeps the pump away from the regular plumbing and wiring in the well), and the hooks and cord that enable you to leave this pump in the well, ready to use in an emergency.
A. 5/8 or larger ID garden hose
B. 3/4 NPT to garden hose adapter
C. Open eye hook, washers, nuts
D. Well cap
E. 1/8″ nylon hanging cord
F. 3/4″ PVC schedule 40 to 3/4 NPT adapter
G. 1/2″ carriage bolts, washers, nuts
H. 1-1/2″ ID PVC schedule 40 collar
I. Ground level
J. Electric power pump wiring
K. 3/4″ ID PVC sched. 40 pipe collar
L. 3/4″ ID PVC sched. 40 pipe section
M. Electric power pump feed line
N. Water table
O. 1-1/2″ ID PVC sched. 40 pipe
P. 1/2″ holes in 1-1/2″ PVC pipe sleeve
Q. 1/8″ diam. weep hole
R. 3/4″ foot valve
S. 1-1/2″ PVC shed. 40 pipe cap
T. Metal well casing
Notes: The weep hole is drilled above the foot valve, but a good distance below the frost line. When the pumping stops, the water slowly drains out to prevent freezing.
Disinfect all pump parts before placing them in the well. Disinfect your hands before using the pump.